Chefs are more accustomed to working behind swinging traffic doors than on a stage in front of goggle-eyed viewers. But that didn’t stop four courageous chefs from stepping out of their comfort zones to compete for this year’s Top Chef crown. On an elevated stage at River Ranch in front of hundreds of onlookers, Bria Downey of Clay Pigeon, John Piccolino of B&B Butchers & Restaurant, Denise Paul Shavandy of Café Modern and Juan Rodriguez of Magdalena’s sliced and diced their way to claim the coveted prize.
Downey took home the title with her winning creation of seared duck breast with charred Belgian endive and creamy rendered foie gras polenta after the audience witnessed the chefs juggle various skills and knowledge challenges, followed by a timed cooking event.
Chef Jon Bonnell, of Bonnell’s Restaurant Group, played host again this year and also served as Head Judge. Here’s a closer look at how each of this year’s chef contestants reached the top of their game.